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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Guest Post: A Breastfeeding Story from a Non-Mommy - Part 2

Today's guest post comes from Margaux Ortiz.  Margaux is a colleague who ably helped her best friend and sister-in-law successfully breastfeed their babies.  In the early days, Margaux and I often discussed breastfeeding issues, advice and resources she could share to breastfeeding moms.  To this date, she continues to help her other friends in resolving their breastfeeding issues.  Her experience is proof that a supportive environment can make a difference in the success or failure of a breastfeeding relationship.

This is the second of two parts.  To read part 1, click here. 

I thought that things would be better when my sister-in-law F gave birth to my niece in October 2010. Baby K was born in a BF-friendly hospital, underwent all important stages of the essential newborn care program, was immediately roomed-in, and happily breastfed without any fuss. It also helped that F and my brother had decided months before to exclusively breastfeed their daughter.

But the inevitable hell week* came, and F experienced (what I assume was) the same horrific pain C experienced a week after she gave birth: bleeding nipples, engorged breasts, etc. I totally understand why F’s dad had then suggested that Baby K be given formula.
nursing baby K

If I felt bad when C talked about giving up and disappointing me, I felt worse when it came to my own family. The last thing on my mind was to pressure F into doing something that would traumatize her, and I felt responsible for her pain. To her credit, F bravely decided to accommodate all my suggestions and recommendations: from enlisting the help of an experienced lactation counselor, to allowing my friend C to breastfeed Baby K (C said it was her way of paying it forward) so F could recuperate.

K, almost a toddler
When F finally overcame her nipple and latching problems, we faced yet another challenge: Baby K was brought to the hospital for neonatal sepsis. For a week, I brought donated breast milk from C to the hospital to supplement F’s milk supply. Happily, Baby K recovered. 

I am happy with the way things turned out for C and F. They deserve all the credit for their breastfeeding success. While it may seem that I had a very big role in their breastfeeding story (this is told from my point of view after all, heehee), I was only one of those who encouraged them—the decision was theirs alone (they could’ve given up anytime had they wanted to). We were also lucky to have the support of the knowledgeable and magnanimous people (and online resources!) around us (Jenny, Velvet, Doc Anthony, Abbie, kellymom, Dr. Sears, you have my eternal gratitude).

Ora na azu nwa, so goes the African proverb. It takes a village/community to raise a child. Surely, that village/community has single aunts who help raise the kids their own unique way, huh? :) To other “aunts” (or “uncles”) out there who are afraid to do some coaching (lest they be accused of, “How would you know how this feels?!!!!”), put in mind that just because you don’t have any experience doesn’t mean you cannot help. Sometimes, your word of encouragement, your reassuring smile, or simply your “aura” of determination is enough to get these moms through.
*By hell week, I am referring to the first two weeks after birth. Whenever I talk to other friends who have decided to breastfeed their babies, I warn them about these initial weeks (not to discourage them, but to prepare them for what really lies ahead).

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